Corals Importance of Coral Reefs Healthy coral reefs contain thousands of fish and invertebrate species found nowhere else on Earth.
Coral reefs are believed by many to have the highest biodiversity of any ecosystem on the planet—even more than a tropical rainforest. Occupying less than one percent of the ocean floor, coral reefs are home to more than twenty-five percent of marine life.
Why is that important? A highly biodiverse ecosystem, one with many different species, is often more resilient to changing conditions and can better withstand significant disturbances. In addition, ecosystem services—benefits that humans receive from natural environments—are often greater in highly diverse places.
Coral reefs, thanks to their diversity, provide millions of people with food, medicine, protection from storms, and revenue from fishing and tourism. The biodiversity of reefs can also be appreciated simply for the wonder and amazement it inspires. Brightly colored, spotted, striped, speckled, or otherwise eccentrically patterned fish swim in and around coral reefs; some specialize in eating different kinds of algae, keeping corals from being smothered by their potentially deadly competitors.
Sharks, groupers, and other predatory fish keep populations of smaller fish and other organisms in balance. Parrotfish actually eat the reef itself. They scrape at the coral to get to the small algae zooxanthellae living inside the coral polyp, then grind up the coral skeleton with teeth in their throats and excrete it as sand.
Those beautiful, white sand beaches? Even marine worms and snails perform important roles in the reef ecosystem. Worms filter organic matter in the water and sediments, while snails such as limpets and conchs graze on algae. The snails sometimes become food for sea stars—while sea stars can in turn be eaten by giant snails!
Sea anemones—like the clownfish anemone—have formed symbiotic, or mutually beneficial, relationships with fish and crabs. The sea anemones hide and protect the fish and crabs while the fish and crabs in turn protect the anemones.
Sea anemones are related to corals and are also predatory animals; they do not produce calcareous skeletons and are usually solitary.
And even primitive animals like sea sponges are important to reef health, providing habitat for crustaceans, marine worms, and young fish in their intricate aquiferous canals, and for barnacles and tiny mollusks in their complex surfaces. Sponges themselves become food for nudibranchs, sea stars, turtles, and fish.
And they are valuable to humans as well, producing diverse chemical compounds that are being explored for human medicines.Fish play important roles on coral reefs, particularly the fish that eat seaweeds and keep them from smothering corals, which grow more slowly than the seaweeds.
Fish also eat the predators of corals, such as crown of thorns starfish. play a important role by maintaining algal, coral and plant growth, various fish, sea urchins, sea stars, mollusks. herbicides, pesticides and nutrients washing into the coastal zone and strongly affecting coral reefs.
too cloudy for coral mucous to help. coastal consrtuction.
Remove parts of the coral reef to build things (lime stone) or. Coral reefs, thanks to their diversity, provide millions of people with food, medicine, protection from storms, and revenue from fishing and tourism. An estimated six million fishermen in 99 reef countries and territories worldwide—over a quarter of the world’s small-scale fishermen—harvest from coral reefs.
Planktivorous coral reef fishes play a principal role in the continued health and diversity of coral reef ecosystems. Planktivorous fishes represent ~22% of all coral reef fish species and account for ~60% of the total fish biomass on coral reefs Coral reefs are also very important to people.
Corals differ from sea anemones in their production of a mineral skeleton. Fish play important roles on coral reefs, particularly the fish that eat seaweeds and keep them from smothering corals, which grow more slowly than the seaweeds.
Fish also eat the predators of corals, such as crown. Subsequently, during the last decade, fleshy macroalgal cover increased rapidly on Mesoamerican reefs. Herbivorous fish populations were not responsible for this trend, contrasting the coral reef top-down herbivore control paradigm and implicating the role of external factors in making environmental conditions more favourable for algae.